Your outdoor living area is an extension of your home – a place to relax, entertain, and make the most of nice weather. However, unrelenting sun, harsh winds, or sudden rain showers can quickly dampen your plans for patio fun. A retractable awning is the ideal solution, providing shade, protection, and versatility to your deck, patio or other outdoor space.
Retractable awnings are functional and decorative architectural elements that can transform your home. With the ability to open and close with ease, retractable awnings allow you to quickly adapt to changing conditions. When you want protection from the sun or a cozy, sheltered spot, just extend the awning. When skies are clear, retract it flush with the house to give full access to natural light.
This comprehensive guide will provide expert advice to help you choose the perfect retractable awning. You’ll discover the top models on the market, what features to look for when shopping, frequently asked questions about awning selection and use, and much more. Follow our tips to turn your outdoor area into the ultimate oasis!
The Best Retractable Awnings Available Today
Which retractable awnings deliver the optimum blend of quality, performance, and value? Here are our top five picks:
1. ShadeFX Canvia Neo Motorized Patio Awning
With sleek contemporary aesthetics, robust design, and superb functionality, the Canvia Neo from ShadeFX tops our list. This motorized awning is available in widths up to 40 feet, can be mounted on the wall or ceiling, and provides ample coverage.
- Santos mahogany powder coated frame with 108marine-grade anodized aluminum arms
- Available manual or remote operation
- Unsupported lateral projection up to 13 feet
- Available in more than 150 styles and colors
- Wind and motion sensors for retraction in gusty conditions
- Limited lifetime warranty on framework
The Neo awning positions itself as a premium product, but still comes in at a compelling value. For a fashionable motorized awning that will provide years of quality shade, the Canvia Neo is an outstanding choice.
2. Advaning Wall Mount Retractable Patio Awning
For a basic, affordable awning that gets the job done, we recommend Advaning’s wall mount retractable model. Despite the low price point, it retains sturdy construction and convenient operation. The manual hand crank makes opening and retracting the awning simple and quick.
- Powder coated galvanized steel framework
- UV resistant polyester canopy fabric
- Manual operation with 5.9 ft hand crank
- Wall mount for simple installation
- Available in sizes from 8 ft to 24 ft widths
- 1-year manufacturer’s warranty
While it lacks the robustness and tons of features of costlier models, this Advaning awning provides excellent value. For a small deck or patio on a budget, it’s a great choice.
3. Outsunny Manual Retractable Outdoor Awning
The Outsunny manual awning falls squarely in the middle of the affordability spectrum, offering great quality without the high price. With crisp modern styling, easy crank open functionality, and fade-resistant fabric, it’s built to deliver lasting performance.
- Rust-resistant aluminum alloy housing with steel brackets
- Dyed polyester canopy provides UPF 50 sun protection
- Wide pitch adjustment from 30-145 degrees
- Easy manual operation with crank handle to open and retract
- Wall or ceiling installation
- 10 x 7 ft size ideal for patios and decks
For a sturdy and stylish manual patio awning at a reasonable price point, Outsunny is an excellent brand to consider. Assembly takes less than an hour and the awning can be mounted by two people.
4. Aleko Motorized Retractable Awning
Aleko’s motorized awning is loaded with upscale features you’d expect in a much more expensive model. The powerful motor and ulimited pitch adjustment provide versatility, while the remote control and sliding side panels add convenience.
- Motorized opening and closing at the touch of a remote
- Wall switch for manual override capability
- Lateral arm extension from 6 to 11.5 feet
- Manual pitch adjustment from 0-135 degrees
- Sliding side panels provide adjustable sun coverage
- Sun, wind, and rain sensors prompt automated awning retraction
- Durable acrylic canvas fabric with protective coating
Aleko includes a 3-year warranty and lifetime technical support, ensuring an exceptional customer experience. Overall, this is the top motorized awning providing robust design and functionality for a reasonable investment.
5. Arksen Retractable Patio Awning
If easy operation and hassle-free installation are your top priorities, the Arksen Retractable Awning is a great solution. With three expandable arms controlled by a manual crank, opening and closing this awning couldn’t be simpler.
- Lightweight aluminum frame assembles in minutes with no tools required
- UV-resistant polyester canopy with steel ribs for support
- Manual crank operation allows fast opening and retraction
- Can be tilted to optimal shade angles as desired
- Available in multiple widths from 8 to 16 feet
- Carrying bag included for winter storage
While it lacks robustness for large patios, the quick DIY installation, quality materials, and functional performance make this Arksen awning a budget-friendly choice for small decks or balconies.
Key Factors in Choosing the Best Awning for You
With so many options on the market, it can be tricky identifying which retractable awning is right for your unique needs. Keep the following factors in mind while shopping:
Awning canopies are typically made from vinyl, acrylic or polyester fabric. Vinyl is the most affordable option, but degrades over time from sun exposure. Acrylic and polyester canvases are higher quality and more durable. Acrylic offers vibrant colors and resists fading, while polyester is extremely water resistant. Consider environmental conditions and desired longevity when selecting fabric.
Steel and iron frameworks are durable and robust, but can develop rust over the years. Aluminum provides corrosion resistance and is lighter weight, but may not be quite as sturdy. For coastal climates or locations with acid rain, an anodized aluminum frame with protective coating is ideal.
Consider the measurements of the space you want to cover, leaving 3-6 feet of clearance around patio furniture or structures. Awnings are available in widths spanning 8 to 40 feet. Make sure to abide by the manufacturer’s maximum Unsupported span measurement. This refers to the distance the awning’s arms can extend without additional posts.
Manual vs Motorized
Manual awnings use a hand crank or rod to open and retract the canopy. This allows you to quickly adjust the awning pitch as needed for optimal shade. Motorized units typically use a switch or remote for effortless operation. Motors add convenience but also complexity. Manual systems are often more affordable.
The pitch refers to the awning’s angle or slope. Models with adjustable pitch allow you to set the ideal angle to block sunlight at different times of day. Fixed pitch models don’t provide this flexibility.
Many retractable patio awnings offer automatic sensors that will retract the unit in windy conditions for protection. Rain sensors can also initiate awning retraction to prevent water pooling. These sensors provide an added level of safety and convenience.
Wall mount awnings attach directly to the exterior wall, which is the easiest DIY installation. Ceiling models require securing a mounting bracket overhead first. In-ground awnings use posts dug into the patio or deck, ideal if wall space is limited.
Better quality awnings often come with generous 5+ year warranties. Be sure to read the fine print on which components are covered. Manufacturers like Outsunny and ShadeFX offer limited lifetime warranties on the frame.
Accessories & Enhancements
You can often purchase beneficial awning accessories like screens to keep out bugs, LED lighting kits for evening ambiance, and side/front panels for adjustable privacy and sun blocking. If a basic awning won’t meet your needs, these optional upgrades are worth considering.
By carefully evaluating the options above, you can select the ideal retractable awning providing the right blend of functionality, aesthetics, and cost-effectiveness for you.
Answers to the Most Common Retractable Awning Questions
Ready to install a retractable awning but still have some outstanding questions? Below we answer the most frequently asked questions about awning selection, installation, operation, maintenance and more.
Q: How difficult is it to install a retractable awning?
For wall mount models, DIY installation is definitely feasible with two people. In-ground and ceiling mounted awnings are more complex, often best left to professionals. If going the DIY route, be sure to precisely follow manufacturer instructions. Allow 4-6 hours for assembly and mounting.
Q: What permits or approvals do I need?
If permanently attaching an awning to the exterior wall or foundation, you’ll likely need approval from your homeowners association or local building codes department. Some temporary awnings may not require formal approval. Always check regulations for your area.
Q: How long does installation take?
Once assembled, mounting usually takes 2-4 hours with two people. Total time also depends on awning size and method (in-ground is most time consuming). Many retailers offer professional installation for an added fee, generally $400-$1000 depending on awning specifics.
Q: What electrical work is required?
Manual awnings don’t need any wiring. Motorized units require outlets nearby for power – preferably GFCI protected circuits. Hardwired installation is optimal for permanent fixtures to bypass cords. If an outlet isn’t conveniently located, electrical work may be needed.
Q: How do I operate and maintain the awning?
Operation depends on manual vs motorized style. With manual units, use the crank to unroll awning fabric to desired length, then lock arms in place. Adjust pitch as needed. Maintenance involves keeping the awning fabric and arms clean. Use mild soap and water only – harsh chemicals can degrade the materials.
Q: How durable are retractable awnings?
It depends on the quality of the materials used. Better quality steel or aluminum frames and UV/water resistant awning fabrics can last 10-15 years or more. Vinyl fabrics and cheaper steel frames degrade faster. Location also impacts longevity – coastal humidity and windy regions shorten awning lifespan.
Q: What is the average lifespan?
Barring damage from severe weather, quality awnings are designed to provide 10-15 years of life. With proper seasonal retraction and cleaning, even longer useful lifespans are achievable. Location has a major impact, with harsh climates decreasing average lifespan.
Q: How do I clean the awning fabric?
Use a soft brush and mild soap mixed with warm water for regular cleaning. Avoid abrasive brushes or high pressure washers that risk damaging the fabric. For stubborn stains, mix 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Rinse thoroughly and air dry before retracting.
Q: How do I clean the framework?
Wipe down aluminum or steel awning frameworks with mild detergent and water using a soft cloth. Avoid abrasive cleaners or pads. For hard water stains, use a paste of baking soda and water, then rinse. Touch up paint if needed to prevent rust formation.
Q: How much do retractable awnings cost?
Installed costs typically range from $800 up to $4000, with higher-end motorized systems hitting $8000 or more. DIY awning kits provide major cost savings, with materials running $200 to $2000. Additional costs may include permits and professional installation.
Q: Are they worth the investment?
The curb appeal, UV protection, and outdoor living enhancement make awnings a smart upgrade – especially in hot climates. Energy efficiency studies show retractable awnings can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 15-25% by blocking heat gain. They also provide great resale value.
Q: Are they safe to use in wind, rain and snow?
Most quality awnings are engineered for wind resistance, with ratings from 16 mph (light breezes) up to 55+ mph for the most robust options. The pitch allows runoff in light-moderate rainfall. Units should be retracted in heavy precipitation or snow to prevent pooling/collapse.
Q: How do I troubleshoot problems?
Power issues, jerky operation, leaks and jamming are common problems. Check for blown fuses, damaged wires, or stuck debris. Fabrics often leak if improperly tensioned – adjust attachment straps. Lubricating joints/hardware can fix jerky retraction. Professional service may be needed.
Q: When should the awning be retracted?
To prevent wind damage, awnings should be closed with sustained winds over 22 mph or gusts over 35 mph. Retract anytime heavy rain, snow or severe weather approaches to prevent pooling issues. Close at night and during winter months when not in use.
Q: Can I install lighting or accessories?
Many manufacturers offer LED lighting kits, screens, side/rear panels and evenheating that easily attach to the awning framework. Be sure to use only accessories designed for your specific awning model for proper fit and operation. Follow directions carefully during installation.
Q: How much maintenance is required?
Aside from occasional cleaning, retractable awnings are fairly low maintenance. Lubricate hinges 1-2 times per year. Verify hardware connections are tight before expanding each season. Check for tears, mold and frame corrosion regularly. Fix minor issues promptly to prevent bigger problems.
Q: What warranties come with awnings?
Most carry 1-5 year warranties on canvas and mechanisms. Frames often have longer 5-12 year coverage. Be sure to read warranty details carefully and only operate the awning per manufacturer guidelines. Damage from storms, improper installation or lack of maintenance may void the warranty.
Bring the Indoors Outdoors with a Retractable Awning
Retractable awnings are a terrific way to expand your home’s livable space. With robust shade, protection from the elements, and customizable coverage, they enable you to enjoy the outdoors in comfort. By following this guide’s recommendations for comparing features, costs, and installation considerations, you’re sure to find the perfect awning to make your patio, deck, or balcony even more enjoyable.
Give your outdoor oasis the shade and shelter it deserves with a versatile, fashionable retractable awning designed to provide lasting quality and performance. You’ll quickly find yourself spending more time outside relaxing with family, entertaining friends, and making the most of beautiful days for years to come. Don’t leave your favorite outdoor space exposed to the harsh sun and weather – extend your home’s comforts affordably with a retractable awning that meets your unique needs.